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Grow in Tears to Reap in Joy—Reflections from a German Youth Fellowship
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Grow in Tears to Reap in Joy—Reflections from a German Youth Fellowship

Heidelberg Youth Fellowship—Heidelberg, Germany

In 2009, Heidelberg Prayer House formed its first youth fellowship group, with eleven youths aged between eighteen and thirty-three years. Things were not easy in the beginning. We had fears that the fellowship would not survive, let alone grow, due differences in the ages, personalities, and backgrounds of the youths. At first, we had neither clear objectives nor a fixed organization—everything was new to us. Thus, the early days of the youth fellowship were marked by long discussions.

Almost four years on, the fellowship gathers every Sabbath between 6 and 8 p.m. without fail. We have studied a range of topics from the Old to New Testaments, from Bible history to comparative religion etc.

Each member of the youth group has learned to appreciate the fellowship as an opportunity to reinforce his or her faith through deeper study of the Bible and other faith-related topics. Activities and trips have strengthened the youth group as a whole, bringing much joy to the entire church. By God’s grace, we have gained much experience through serving God and preaching the gospel together.

In the following paragraphs, seven youths share their personal reflections on the fellowship. We hope this will encourage other youths around the world and prompt them to think about themselves and their own fellowships.

Appreciating the community in Christ

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles´ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

The first community in Christ is an example of the perfect church. The brethren gathered with one accord and enjoyed each other’s companionship with gladness and simplicity of heart. These people were kept together by the word of God, His love, and prayer. What keeps our youth fellowship together and makes us gather with one accord? Is it just one zealous person within the group who is keeping the group united? Our youth fellowship started through the efforts of a very dedicated youth group leader. But a fellowship cannot last for long if it depends on a single person.

In our case, we were tested after less than a year, when our first group leader had to move away. What kept our group together then, and continues to do so today is that which kept the first apostolic community together: God’s word, His love, and prayer. Each and every one of us must put time and effort into the fellowship. It requires motivation to give and contribute to a group, and this is not natural for most of us. But when we learn to do so, our fellowship will slowly be built up.

Being able to attend a youth fellowship is a gift from God. We should treasure it because there may not always be a youth group in every church. Moreover, as youths, we have a great deal of time for fellowship, but this period of our lives is brief and will soon come to an end. May we find blessings of all kinds in our local youth fellowship, and may God be the one who joins us as one.


What is our fellowship based on?

How can we contribute to make it a perfect one?

Studying God’s word

“... they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

Why do truth-seekers and the newly-baptized seem more diligent in studying the Bible than regular church members? They want to know the truth. Desperately. They want to make sure that everything that has been told to them is biblically sound. Thus, they “test all things [and] hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21). In contrast, some long-time believers are too lazy or are reluctant to search into the words of God; they just accept everything that is preached.

To have a deeply-rooted faith, we must understand what we believe in. Only then can we preach the gospel wholeheartedly, convicted that it is the God-given truth. While fellowships must not replace personal Bible study, our fellowship provides us with the opportunity to search the Scriptures weekly “to find out whether these things [are] so.” Not only do we study the basic doctrines, we also have special seminars during which a preacher delivers lessons on certain topics, such as “The flaws of trinity.” These are precious opportunities for us because preachers are available in Heidelberg on fewer than ten occasions per year.


Have we ever searched the Scriptures with all our hearts in order to find out whether what we believe in is true?

Have we ever experienced the indescribable beauty of God’s words?


“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov 17:17)

We all need spiritual friends to support us in times of need. If we do not have anyone to support us in our spiritual battles, we will be easily defeated by the devil and lose our promised inheritance.

To support one another, we need to trust one another and be familiar with one another’s circumstances. We can achieve this through regular fellowship and by opening our hearts to sincerely share and take advice.

Real friendship is built on the truth. By studying the Scriptures together every Sabbath, we strengthen our faith in God and our trust in other members. Every week, we take turns to lead the fellowship sessions. Preparing for the sessions allows us to refine our own faith, so we can help others draw nearer to God. We sometimes discuss topics that have not been covered in sermons in order to gain a better understanding of biblical concepts. Our weekly Bible studies also provide an opportunity for us to reflect on ourselves and to examine whether we have put God’s words into practice. As we sit together and learn more about our heavenly Father, we experience harmony, peace, and fun. This atmosphere draws us closer together, so we can identify when and how to help one another.


Are you strong enough to edify other children of God?

Are you able to share your problems with others and accept help?


“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” (Acts 2:46)

The early apostolic church lived together joyfully and served God with one accord. As the body of Christ, we should be of the same mind (1 Cor 1:10). Doing God’s work and attending Sabbath service is more joyful if the church is united.

Besides the weekly fellowship sessions after Sabbath service, we have activities at the prayer house, at one another’s homes or outdoors. .Our activities include having barbeques, making dumplings or watching fireworks. These activities often involve the older generation and give us the opportunity to share our faith and lives, laugh together or just enjoy one another’s company.


When was the last time your whole church joyfully came together?

Are you involved in planning for the next church event?


“How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” (Ps 84:1,5)

Although we love to be in His tabernacle—the church building—we can share God’s words and have fellowship elsewhere too. Summer is the best time for outdoor activities; this is also when visitors from different places tend to come, and this gives us the opportunity to take them around Heidelberg city.

In addition, we can travel to other countries and learn from other brothers and sisters.
In March 2011, our youth group made its first journey abroad. We went to Paris for four days, visiting the church and the city. Many of the local brothers and sisters took us around—thank God for their abundant love. We also experienced traveling as a group and representing the church for the first time.

The following year, we visited our brethren in Spain, who are scattered around Barcelona, Madrid and Albacete. Spain is a pioneer area, and volunteer workers, mainly from the German-speaking regions, are regularly sent there to support the pastoral work. During our seven-day trip, we met up with a volunteer worker and helped her conduct a total of five services, fellowships, and Bible studies at three different places—thank God, we gained much from sharing our faith with others.

During both trips, we saw brethren in other places living out their faith under different circumstances, and this also strengthened our own faith. We thank God for granting us the opportunity to visit our brothers and sisters abroad, to have fellowship with them, and to bond with one another during this precious time. These trips also taught us much about being patient and caring for one another, just as God is patient with us and cares for us.


Are you prepared to represent your church?

When was the last time your youth fellowship gathered in one accord to pray, eat and laugh?

Doing church work

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor 15:58)

As youths, we are well-placed to give of our time, strength and talents. Every youth in our fellowship participates in regular church work and cleaning duties, but we also have some sessions dedicated to church work in our youth fellowship. Some work has to be done frequently, like changing bed sheets before the convocations, some types of work are unique, such as changing the carpet and wallpaper in the service room, and others happen spontaneously, for example, cleaning areas that we do not have time to clean after the Sabbath service. With a watchful eye, it is easy to spot work that needs to be done and corners in the church that need our attention. The more we involve ourselves in church work, the more we see what needs to be done. Church has become a very familiar place that we care about, just like our homes. While this is good, the real challenge is to learn to take good care of the church in a manner that our fellow workers, the young and the elderly feel comfortable with.

We can achieve this goal if we work, not for ourselves, but for the Lord. He is the reason why we serve and are not discouraged. In the end, when we have done all that the Lord has commanded, may we say: “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do” (Lk 17:10).


What is your attitude towards church work?

Has every youth in your church developed the eye of a watchman who watches over the well-being of the church?


“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15)

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must preach the gospel diligently, so that more people will know the love, might, and salvation of God.

Although Heidelberg prayer house is small, and material and human resources limited, our youths still have the heart to carry out the great commission. Soon after the establishment of our youth group, we went out to preach the gospel by singing hymns in the most frequented pedestrian area in Heidelberg’s city center. It was tough and challenging because we did not have any experience in this area of work. Relying solely on a pure heart to work for God, we prepared for the “hymnal evangelism.” When we faced difficulties, we knelt down and prayed with one accord. Indeed, “as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have” (2 Cor 8:11–12).

Thank God! After this first experience, we started to organize gospel tea fellowships and invited friends to come. Over time, the youths have become more mature and united in evangelism. Only God can unite people; what is impossible with men is possible with God!


What obstacles stand between us and our mission from God?

Have you ever experienced the joy of preaching the gospel?


Over the years, God has given and taught us much through our youth fellowship. We have grown and will continue to grow and give of our best according to His will. It is not easy to grow, but if you grow in God, there will be abundant joy on the way. May God guide and unite His youths in every church to help them have a fruitful fellowship. May all glory be unto His name!

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